Understanding hail damage

While hail storms are usually over within seconds, they often leave extreme damage in their wake. These destructive storms can occur without warning, and you may be wondering how balls of ice can form in the warm, summertime sky.

What is hail?

Hail is a form of solid precipitation composed of hailstones, which are irregular or ball-shaped lumps of ice. Contrary to sleet, which is made of small ice pellets, hail occurs much more often during the summer. It’s also a lot more dangerous. Hailstones range from 5 mm to 15 cm in diameter and can cause extreme damage. Hail requires specific conditions to form, and it’s more common in continental interiors than coastal areas, in spite of the fact the latter experience more frequent storms.

 

How do hailstones form?

Hail forms at high altitude in cumulonimbus clouds, which are present during thunderstorms and tornadoes. Their bases form at low to middle altitudes, but the clouds themselves reach heights of up to 50,000 feet. Consequently, while the bottom layers are warm, the top ones are icy cold. This temperature differential is what causes hail to form.

 

Strong gusts of wind called updrafts cause water droplets to rise from the warm levels to the cold top layers, where they freeze into ice particles. These hailstones in the making can fall back down, collect more water in the warmer cloud layer, and be buffeted back up again several times, growing larger and larger until finally the force of gravity is stronger than any updraft, and they fall to the ground.

 

Why is hail so destructive?

The stronger the winds, the larger the hailstones get. Wind speeds of 102 km/h can create hailstones the size of a golf ball. These powerful storms can also create powerful downdraft winds, causing hail to fall faster. This means that, in some cases, extremely large hailstones can fall very fast and cause severe damage to structures, vehicles and people. During a hail storm, try to stay inside and away from windows.

 

Dealing with roof damage

Alberta’s climate and geography make the formation of hail storms fairly common, especially along the infamous Hailstorm Alley. Homeowners should be careful to inspect their roofs after hail storms. If you think your roof needs hail damage repair, or if you’re looking to install a shake roof to make your home more resistant to hail, you can trust Shake Experts to provide professional and efficient service. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.

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